Jake Wightman aiming to break 38-year-old Scottish record in final Tokyo tune-up

Edinburgh’s Jake Wightman plans to ensure he goes flying towards Tokyo with a high-speed victory in his final tune-up in Gateshead tonight.

Jake Wightman competes in the Diamond League 1,500m tonight, his final competitive race before the Tokyo Olympics.
Jake Wightman competes in the Diamond League 1,500m tonight, his final competitive race before the Tokyo Olympics.

The Olympic-bound Scot, who turned 27 on Sunday, will sign off his build-up in the historic Emsley Carr Mile at the Diamond League leg against a largely domestic field that also includes his 1500m rival at the Games, Jake Heyward. But despite two wins in four starts this summer, Wightman admits he’s hunting a fast time for the ideal pre-Games booster ahead of his medal tilt.

“It's weird running this because it could not go well,” he said. “And it would not be a nice way to go into Olympics. But I want to be able to try and run quick because I feel like the rounds in Tokyo, and especially a final, could potentially be quick. And I've not gone fast this year, really. So I want to try and make sure I get a race which prepares me for that.”

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The European medallist will target Graham Williamson’s Scottish mile record of 3:50.64 that has stood for exactly 38 years to the very day.

“Hopefully I get that,” he said. “Steve Cram let me know he has got the stadium record. So that's another incentive, to try and get that.

“I need to try and improve my mile time. I don't really getting the chance to run them too often. And obviously there's a lot of history in the event. So have a time that you can say is sub-3.50 to me is a lot bigger deal than obviously running four minutes, which I did a while ago.”

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Andy Butchart is slated to run the 3000m at the Grand Prix despite his Olympic place remaining in limbo just days before he is due to travel to Japan. Nicole Yeargin will get her Diamond League debut in the women’s 400m while Beth Dobbin takes on Rio 2016 gold medallist Elaine Thompson over 200m.

For Wightman and his Edinburgh club-mate Josh Kerr, there remains uncertainty too, with no confirmation still on the fate of world 1500m champion Timothy Cheriuyot, whose omission from the Kenyan team for Tokyo could yet be overturned. But whether or not the fastest man in the world this year is at the Games, opportunity knocks, Wightman insists.

“I don't think that the rest of us are that far behind or going to be discounted,” he said. “We could still be in there. Matt Centrowitz from 2016 is the one person that keeps me going. Thinking that anything can happen in an Olympic final. Because nobody would have said that Centro was going to win that race. If you have a perfect day, you can do anything.”